To the Editor:
I live in Kodiak because of our sense of community and because I see and hear about and experience Kodiak folks helping each other. Community is “a sense of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” I remember the “can do” spirit Kodiak had rebuilding after the tidal wave and the common attitude of “never again” after the Exxon Valdez oil spill. As so many of us have done over the years, I’ve sold and purchased countless tickets for fund raisers and attended any number of auctions and community events — the Kodiak community showing interest in and supporting our institutions and families. Our common goal has been to maintain and improve Kodiak.
Kodiak salmon fishermen and their families, seafood processors and processing workers, and local businesses are facing a new challenge. On Jan. 11-14, the Alaska Board of Fisheries will be considering about 10 proposals that, if accepted, could reduce Kodiak’s annual salmon revenue by up to 1/3. On better years that means in excess of Ten Million Dollars ($10,000,000) in lost revenue. Simply stated, Kodiak salmon fishermen will go broke, Kodiak jobs will be lost and Kodiak businesses will fail.
Looking west, the first series of proposal would shut down Kodiak’s traditional fishery in and around Cape Igvak on the Alaska Peninsula. This is a fishery that Kodiak fishermen have participated in since the 1960s. Once the “limited entry” line was drawn in 1973, a compromise was reached prohibiting Kodiak’s fishing at Cape Igvak until Chignik catches 300,000 fish (600,000 with the second run) and, when fishing occurs, Kodiak is limited to 15% of the total Chignik catch. Still, despite the 50-year history of the Cape Igvak Management plan, Chignik fishermen now want all the fish headed to Chignik.
Looking north, Cook Inlet fishermen want to restrict Kodiak salmon fishing on any part of the Mainland and along the west side of Kodiak Island. Their thesis is that Kodiak’s fishery should be managed to maximize the probability that all Cook Inlet bound fish arrive in Cook Inlet. Non-Kodiak fish account for a small percentage of Kodiak’s overall salmon catch. Managing the Kodiak area for Cook Inlet fish is like prohibiting all driving during the winter because of the possibility of an accident. Yes, Kodiak fishermen encounter Cook Inlet bound sockeye while fishing for local stocks. However, when and where and to what extent Cook Inlet fish will be in the Kodiak is unpredictable. In addition, Kodiak already shoulders a conservation burden to protect Cook Inlet bound fish under our North Shelikof management plan which strictly limits Kodiak’s salmon fishing in the North Shelikof area — an area larger than the entirety of Cook Inlet.
Kodiak fishermen are working hard to persuade the Alaska Board of Fisheries to maintain our historical salmon fishery but we need Kodiak’s help. Plan to attend and testify at the Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting Jan. 11-14 here in Kodiak.
Chairman, Kodiak Salmon Workgroup